a blog on tech, politics, life and zombies


Apple Watch First Impressions

A few weeks ago, thanks to an unexpected bonus and a good Black Friday sale, my wife and I picked up a pair of Apple Watches. I’ve worn it every day since purchasing it and thought I’d share some early thoughts.

It hasn’t radically changed my life

Simple fact of the matter there. It’s a lovely little thing, but truthfully my habits and whatnot haven’t largely changed since purchasing it. I’ve been on a good weight loss trend, and this hasn’t really arrested or helped that, I think. Certainly hasn’t hurt. It’s nice being able to track my workouts a bit better and have a more accurate idea of my calorie burning thanks to the heart rate monitor, but it hasn’t made me workout more or less. There’s nothing I can really do that I couldn’t do before.

But mind you, the same can be said of the iPad when I first got it. There was nothing I could do on that that I couldn’t technically do on my iPhone. But there was lots it encouraged me to do, like read more, read the paper, etc. There are still plenty of activities I just generally won’t do if I don’t have my iPad with me. 

And with the Watch I could see the same happening, particularly if I didn’t already have a workout schedule going. I am more likely to quickly respond to texts and messages I find, partly because I can do so quickly from my watch, and because I’m more likely to see them. So far this hasn’t proven a hindrance to me. It doesn’t bug me to get the notifications. I can very easily dismiss them from the watch or ignore them. That’s been nice!

The Good

It’s a pretty little thing, for sure. I can change my watch face at will between something fun like a Mickey Mouse face (WHICH ANNOUNCES THE TIME WHEN I TAP HIM OMG GUYS) and a more informative one. My default has generally been one that has the weather report, time, my current activity levels and a quick button for the Breathe App.

That is probably my favourite feature of it. The watch has an app called Breathe, which takes you through a short, one minute, guided meditation at will. The guidance is minimal - just some taps to breath in and out and a quiet bell when you’re done, but it’s something I can do. It tracks how often you do it throughout the day, and gives you a summary at the end of the week, as well as tracking your heart rate through the exercise.

For me really the tracking has been the most fun and useful part. It tracks how many calories I burn through movement, how much exercise I get each day, and how often I go an hour without standing. It has metrics for these things and as you complete them you fill 3 “rings”, which is the main activity tracking. You get updates throughout the day on how you’re doing.

Now these don’t always seem to be the most accurate. It counts basically any time I’m walking anywhere as “exercise” and anytime I stand up as “movement.” I can fill the exercise bar easily (which is set at 30 minutes, which you can’t change) even on the weekends just by moving around my house and going up and down the stairs in a normal way. The fact that I can fill it so easily seems to defeat the purpose, though I’ve read reports from others where it doesn’t seem to get filled up for them at all, even on a long walk. The “movement” bar seems easy to fill as well, though that’s adjustable, but I always very easily fill that one.

Despite their flaws, I LOVE having this tracking ability and being able to look back over the month. All this data is synced to my iPhone for viewing and review. It even tracks my heart rate throughout the day and syncs that, minute by minute. I’m not sure how accurate it is always - I think it depends partly on how tight the watch it and how it’s sitting on my wrist - but it’s fun to have the trends anyway.

Using it to pay also feels very futuristic. I’ve used ApplePay on my phone before but it feels much cooler on the watch, I’ve gotta say. 

The Bad

I don’t have a lot of BAD to say, honestly. The battery is solid (I’ve yet to run out of battery in a given day, and for example now I’m sitting at 46% at 6pm on a normal day, having gotten up at 5:45am). The interface is fine - it could be better, but I’m not sure how, and making a useable and intuitive interface on a tiny touch screen is no mean feat. I had it all down within a day or two of messing around. I wish there was a different way to browse apps on the Watch, but that’s about the worst I would say.

Mostly I’d say my main problem is there aren’t a ton of apps for it, and that feels like wasted potential. There’s a fun workout app called CarrotFit that guides you through workouts, pinging your wrist when it’s time to switch movements and giving you a visual on how to perform the workout on your watch screen, and it’s great, but I feel like there could be something that counts my pushups or something like that. 


Overall, it’s a great device, and I’m glad I bought it. It won’t change my life, but it does…smooth it out a bit, if that makes sense.


I Watched Them Pass Me By

I'm gonna start out by saying that if you've never gotten the kind of gadget lust that leads someone to upgrade to the latest and greatest every year, this post may not be for you. Please go ahead and read! But it may not make much sense.

Put simply, I've lost my gadget lust. Not entirely mind you. I watched the presentation today eagerly. I'm planning and hoping to get an iPhone Plus when my contract comes due in October, though I may have to wait a bit. And if someone handed my an Apple Watch I'd be over the moon.

But you know what? I've had the same iPhone for 3 years now, a 4S. Some folks who knew me a while back are shocked at that fact. I used to upgrade all the time. Usually by lining up on launch day. I had a ton of fun doing that. But now the gadget lust has kind of passed me by a bit. Oh, I won't pretend I didn't want a 5 or 5S when they came out. That I didn't try to justify needing a new one before the wedding because mine wouldn't last a day on battery alone. And sure, I picked up a new iPad Air to replace an iPad mini and now want the mini again (always want the one I don't have, you see). But even now I don't feel a great need to upgrade my phone. Sure, mine is older now, barely lasts a battery, and some apps crash it regularly (I'm looking at you, Instagram). But it works. I can charge it at work and carry a charging brick for when I'm out and about.

It's weird though, feeling that lust be gone. I watched the Watch presentation feeling like I was outside looking in. Sure, it looked cool. I'd use it and it'd be fun. It might even make me work out more. And when I have some disposable income and decide I need a new watch, I'll probably get one. But not right away. I won't be lining up or going into debt or anything for it.

The funny thing is, though, I don't begrudge those who do, who lust after these things, who replace them yearly. I really don't. I get it, and I still get a little huffy when someone makes fun of those folks. It's their thing. It's their fandom. Let them have it. It was mine once too, but no longer, really. I'm not sure when it changed. Maybe when I bought the house, or at least when it became this realistic idea in my head. But somewhere it kind of passed me by.

That said, I still have every intention of getting a new iPhone Plus when funds allow. And if I happen to win the lottery or get a higher paying new job soon, you bet your ass I'm buying an Apple Watch (and one for Anna too). And I'll still be thrilled as Hell when I open the new phone, and I'll still marvel at it for a year or so.


Until they release the new one, anyway.

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